Peter Fowler stepped up his bid for back-to-back Senior Tour titles by moving into a one stroke lead at the halfway stage of the ISPS Handa PGA Seniors Championship.
Continuing the fine form which led to his fourth Senior victory in Jersey last week, the Australian, who celebrated his 56th birthday on Tuesday, edged ahead of England’s Carl Mason on seven under par with a second round 67 at Close House in Newcastle-upon-Tyne.
Crediting some tips on how to play the Lee Westwood course from designer Scott McPherson, whom he tapped up for some inside knowledge earlier in the week, Fowler picked up six birdies, including a run of three on the spin from the 14th, with just the two dropped shots to move to the top of the leaderboard.
“I played with him (Scott) about three or four years ago when the course first opened when we were up at Slaley Hall during the PGA,” said Fowler. “I spoke to him this week and he told me how he thought you should play the holes. The fairways are quite wide but if you hit it up the correct side of the fairway you can get at the pins a bit easier as the greens are quite difficult.”
Asked about his rich vein of form, he said: “I played pretty steady all the way round, despite one three putt. A few things have just come good. I didn’t putt so well last year and bunker shots have been terrible for a couple of years and they’ve come right and so I’m not afraid on the greens anymore and the bunkers." "I’m hitting the ball well this week, even better than last week.”
Mason is leading the chase heading into the weekend as his love affair with the ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship continues, the European Senior Tour’s most prolific winner signing for a second successive round of 68.
Starting at the tenth, Mason, who had held the overnight lead alongside three others, quickly made his first birdie of the day on the 11th and, despite a bogey at the next, he turned in one under 34 courtesy of another gain at the 17th.
Further birdies followed at the third, fourth and eighth holes and, despite dropping a shot at the tough ninth, the Englishman was understandably delighted with his day’s work.
Mason, who has won the ISPS HANDA PGA Seniors Championship on three occasions, said: “I’m very pleased with my performance, it was very solid again today. I hit the ball well and kept out of trouble which is the main thing here, as it’s fraught with danger. It’s playing very fast and getting even faster so you have got to be careful.
“I’ve driven it well off the tee, and that’s been the key. If you hit the ball well off the tee, that makes the game a lot easier. If you’re a bit wayward off the tee here, you can get out of position and in all sorts of trouble.
“It’s nice to have that feeling of being up there again. - Mason
It’s what it’s all about, why we play the game. What will be will be over the weekend, but if I can keep playing and hitting the ball the way I have these first two days, I’m not going to be too far away.”
Frenchman Jean Pierre Sallat added a level par round of 71 to his opening 68 to remain on three under, with Ireland’s Philip Walton and England’s Philip Golding are a further shot back at two under par, five off the lead.